The Philadelphia Flyers have become the most interesting team to watch over the last few days. Not because of anything spectacular captain Claude Giroux did at the All-Star game, but because of comments coming out of their front office. Just yesterday, Flyers chairman Dave Scott explained that the team will be aggressive in free agency this summer and today GM Chuck Fletcher spoke about their plans in the second half of this season. Most notably, Fletcher explained that he is “trying to make the team better at all costs” and is looking to “add better players and add depth.” Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer put it more simple terms, tweeting that Fletcher made it seem like “everyone is available in a trade except Claude Giroux” before adding that Carter Hart is probably on that hands-off list.
If there is one name to focus on in Philadelphia of course, it’s Wayne Simmonds. The veteran power forward has been on everyone’s mind the last few weeks as the trade deadline approaches, and once again was a key point in Pierre LeBrun’s latest for The Athletic (subscription required). LeBrun makes the case for Simmonds playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning down the stretch, but also notes that Western Conference contenders like the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets will surely check in before the deadline.
It is important to remember though that Fletcher was brought in to make changes to this group, after former GM Ron Hextall was criticized for being too patient. The team has a huge number of top prospects still developing, but hasn’t been able to find the goaltending or defense to really compete in the Metropolitan Division even while they pay Giroux and Jakub Voracek like some of the best forwards in the league. James van Riemsdyk was inked to a huge deal in the offseason but has dealt with injury and inconsistency upon his return to Philadelphia, and the crease has been a carousel of names from the start of the year.
Now that Hart is in place and looks like the goaltender of the present, not just the future, you can bet the Flyers aren’t interested in any sort of rebuild. The team wants to compete right away, and that makes them one of the toughest teams to read heading into the trade season. While they might move out some expiring pieces, don’t think they won’t add as well even with their eyes on next season. Players with a few years under contract could be of interest, especially given the team has only a handful of forwards under contract for next season.
With 14 games left before the deadline and nine of those at home, Fletcher might wait just a little while longer to make sure that there’s no chance of sneaking into the postseason this year. But even if that stretch doesn’t go well, don’t think it’s just going to be a tear down in Philadelphia.